By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), reports 10 008 new COVID-19 cases that have been identified in South Africa, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2 533 466. This increase represents a 22.8% positivity rate.
The majority of new cases today are from Western Cape (29%), followed by KwaZulu-Natal (23%); Gauteng accounted for 17%; Eastern Cape accounted for 8%; Mpumalanga accounted for 7%; North West accounted for 5%; Free State & Northern Cape each accounted for 4% respectively; and Limpopo accounted for 2% of today’s new cases.
NICD said a further 190 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 74 813 to date.
Meanwhile lingering after-effects of Covid-19 which persist for more than six weeks have been deemed "Long Covid" by the World Health Organisation – and those holding down jobs need to manage their symptoms while being expected to return to work, says Myrna Sachs, head of Alexander Forbes Health Management Solutions.
While Long Covid is not common knowledge, we can gauge its prevalence from a December 2020 article in the Lancet medical journal," Sachs said. "One in five people who had Covid-19 had persisting symptoms for more than five weeks and one in ten had symptoms for longer than 12 weeks."
Over the past six months, South African insurers have noted that sickness benefits or income replacement benefits have increased year on year.
Fatigue and headaches are the most prevalent symptoms. Other symptoms include:
- Extreme tiredness (fatigue);
- Shortness of breath;
- Chest pain or tightness;
- Memory and concentration problems (brain fog);
- Difficulty sleeping (insomnia);
- Heart palpitations;
- Pins and needles;
- Joint pain;
- Depression and anxiety;
- Ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus) or an earache;
- Stomach aches;
- High temperature;
- Sore throat;
- Loss of sense of smell (anosmia);
The symptoms may be constant, fluctuate, or appear and be replaced by symptoms relating to other symptoms with varying frequency.
Long Covid-19 may linger three months or more after Covid isolation, even up to 12 months.
This may affect overall work performance, resulting in extended medical incapacity, a disability claim or both, Sachs said.
Alexander Forbes Health Management Solutions (AFHMS) said companies should include all intervention service providers such as occupational health, health risk managers, employee assistance programme providers and the wellness team to support an employee through a graded return to work and work accommodation.